Tomb iSTi (Icheti) at Saqqara


In 1948 Lauer conducted reconstruction work at the entrance to the enclosure of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. The site had been used as a quarry and when searching for lost blocks Lauer found some shafts dating to the 6th Dynasty.
These shafts were dug about a hundred metres from the northwest corner of the enclosure and to the west of it between its foundations and a mud-brick mastaba from the Old Kingdom. The limestone stelae corresponding to the shafts were once attached to this mastaba; some were collected nearby, but of the main one only fragments remain. But we did find one of the side panels which framed the main one, with a beautiful bas-relief portrait of the deceased seated and seated at a table, above it, the list of offerings and, below, bearers of offerings and butchery scenes. The owner is the dignitary Icheti, whose titles include those of chancellor of the king of Lower Egypt, governor of a royal castle, unique friend, and first after the king of Upper Egypt. Also among the fragments of the stele are cartouches of the two kings of the 5th dynasty Merire (Pepi I) and Neferkare (Pepi II).

The clearing of the Icheti shaft soon enabled us to reach its serdab, which was located towards the east in the rock face of the shaft itself, about 4 meters from its top. This serdab consists of a small rectangular artificial cavern about 1 by 9 metres and 90 cm. tall. Its 1.15 m. wide entrance, walled up at the time of the funeral, had been broken into when the tomb was violated, and the statues and other enclosed objects were then obviously disturbed from their original position.

Lauer-1950, p. 15

Drioton-Lauer-1958, Pl II

Drioton-Lauer-1958, p. 208,219

The two walls of the niche: were covered with beautiful slabs of fine Tourah limestone, reducing the width of the shrine to about 95cm. These slabs are decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions (pl IV and V) that show Icheti sitting before a table around which the food brought to him by his servants is piled. At the very bottom, the first register shows the usual butchery scenes.

Above the figure, his name Icheti and his title "ruler of the domain of the pyramid of Neferka-Rè (Pepi II), unique friend, lector priest and director of the missions of the divine domain".

Above the table and victuals, is a menu board with the number of the different portions, and at the end of this enumeration, the figures performing the liturgy of offering. The panel on the right (north side), which has been preserved for the most part (pl.IV), is of an excellent style and particularly the portrait of Icheti himself. Of the left (south) panel, only three important fragments remain; part of the titulature and sign (pl. V a); the front part of the bust of Icheti sitting with his arm towards his table (pl. V b); the end of the butchery scene and the lower half of the part of the register of offering bearers that surmounts it (pl. V e).


A wall, of which only a small part remains in place, separated the niche from the chamber. In the centre of the latter, a cavity (2.10X0.92 m) had been carved in the rock to be used as a sarcophagus. This was still covered with a large limestone slab of 2.45x1.12 m: the thieves did not break it, having preferred to cut into the rock at the northern end of the cavity, to extract the mummy which had disappeared. Against the southeast corner of the lid (see pl.VIT.b), we discovered two hard stone vases and a collection of 12 charming small alabaster vases still intact except for one, as well as a small simulacrum of trussed geese in the same material (pl.XV1).

Excavation Report

Lauer-1950, pp 15-18

Reference (Bibliography)

Lauer J-P, Découverte du Serdab du Chancelier Icheti a Saqqarah, RdE 7, 15-18., 1950 Drioton E, Lauer J, Un groupe de tombes à Saqqarah: Icheti, Nefer-Khouou-Ptah, Sébek-em-khent et Ânkhi, ASAE, 55, fasc. 2 , 1958


  1. iSTi (Icheti)